Legislative Update 4-15-22

House resolution names April as County Government Month

To mark National County Government Month (NCGM) in April, the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution drafted by MAC noting the key contributions that county governments make to daily life in our state.

State Rep. Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, herself a former county commissioner and former MAC Board member, sponsored the resolution and spoke on its behalf during a House session Tuesday afternoon.

“As a former county commissioner, I know firsthand that county governments play a vital role in the delivery of key public services in our state,” Rogers said. “Counties provide a variety of services, such as parks and recreation programs, services for seniors, medical care facilities, courts and court services, elections, and infrastructure. As a health care provider, I also appreciate the key role they play in public health by promoting equitable and accessible health for all residents.”

MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie thanked Rogers for her support: “Our members across Michigan greatly appreciate Rep. Rogers’ sponsorship of this resolution and its quick adoption by the full House of Representatives. Nearly 50,000 of our friends and neighbors work in county government each and every day to make our state a better, safer and healthier place to live. Such service is deserving of recognition this month — and every month.” 

The NCGM celebration was begun by the National Association of Counties in 1991 to highlight the numerous and daily contributions of county government and employees to public life.

MAC members are encouraged to make use of a variety of NCGM resources:

 

Podcast 83 interviews state mental health leader about threat to local control in Senate Bills 597-98

Legislation that would bring in private companies to handle mental health services in Michigan would wreck longstanding local oversight and almost assuredly weaken assistance for those in need, a state leader in the field said during a special episode of MAC’s Podcast 83.

Alan Bolter, associate director of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, discussed Senate Bills 597-98 with Meghann Keit-Corrion, MAC governmental affairs associate and point person on mental health issues.

MAC and CMHA are among organizations that have opposed these measures, which are backed by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson). First introduced in July 2021, the bills cleared a Senate committee last fall and are before the full Senate.

Use MAC’s advocacy platform to send a message of opposition to your senator. MAC also has a talking points sheet on mental health legislation for members’ use.

A poll commissioned by the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan and conducted by third-party survey provider EPIC-MRA found 67 percent of Michigan voters prefer the public mental health system to be managed by public entities who specialize in mental health care vs. turning the system over to private, for-profit companies.

Sixty-two Michigan counties have passed resolutions in support of local control and against SBs 597-98.

 

House subcommittees send budget recommendations for review

House subcommittees were busy at work this week sending recommendations to the full House Appropriations Committee for further review. Some highlights include:

  • $149M in Michigan Indigent Defense Commission grants
  • $175M for a statewide judicial case management system as recommended by the Trial Court Funding Commission
  • $15M in federal funds to assist trial courts with processing base backlog ($7M of which must be used to create a virtual backlog response docket)
  • $250M in federal funds for counties for improvements to existing jail facilities or construction of a new jail, with a 20% match and a cap of $25M per grant (it should be noted new jail construction is not allowed under the federal rules)
  • $100M in federal funds to support radio tower grants, which includes a 20% match requirement and caps a cap of $25M per grant
  • $57.5M for grant funding to eligible public safety entities to purchase years of service for out-of-state personnel who are hired in Michigan
  • $15M for secondary road patrol  
  • $10M in grants to public safety departments for community policing programs
  • $10M to reimburse local law enforcement officers for leave time they were required to use in order to quarantine because of exposure or possible exposure to COVID-19
  • $10M to grant retention bonuses of up to $5,000 to public safety officers, first responders, local corrections officers, public safety telecommunicators, and juvenile detention employees.
  • $10M in federal funds to grant signing bonuses of up to $5,000 to new public safety officers, first responders, local corrections officers, public safety telecommunicators, and juvenile detention employees
  • $3M for a public safety and first responder recruitment marketing program
  • $15M for the county jail reimbursement program
  • 13M for community corrections program
  • $4M for county veterans service grants

The Senate is expected to begin moving budgets next week and have them to the full Senate Appropriations Committee by the end of the month.

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Bills amending FOIA receive hearing in House Oversight Committee

Changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) could be coming from legislation introduced in the House. House Bills 5921 and 5923-25 seek to amend the act to limit local governments’ ability to defend denials of FOIA requests as well as increase the administrative burden and costs of compliance. Counties across Michigan consistently comply with the Freedom of Information Act and work with the public to ensure transparency and accountability in government. The provisions in the act require dedicated staff, on-going communication and compliance with requests.  At the same time, the Act protects specific exemptions from record disclosures to safeguard personal privacy, legal investigations, attorney-client privilege information, certain appraisals and other similar exemptions. 

MAC submitted a letter of opposition when the bills received a hearing in the House Oversight Committee this week outlying the following concerns with the package:

House Bill 5921, by Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Kent), limits the reason for FOIA request denial to only the ones stated in the beginning.  This amendment could have the unintended consequences of releasing protected records if someone didn’t catch the right exemption the first time and could potentially force a local agency to violate other laws.

House Bill 5923, by Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Muskegon), requires a written acknowledgement of a request within two days, on top of requiring compliance within five days, and in cases of a denial for a record, requires the public body to acknowledge the records, provide a description of the record and the explanation for the denial.  These amendments will likely require legal counsel involvement in each record request denial as well and create scenarios where private information is being described without providing the actual record.  In cases of mental health allegations, sexual assault allegations, legal opinions and law enforcement investigations, these disclosure requirements undermine the intent of the privacy exemptions. 

House Bill 5924, by Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale), requires that a record in the possession of outside legal counsel be considered to be in the possession of the public body. This amendment blurs the line over what is FOIA-able in an outside legal practice.

House Bill 5925, by Rep. Bryan Posthumus (R-Kent), allows for civil actions regarding the determination of whether or not the record is considered primarily for the public benefit and therefore should not be subject to fees for compiling the record. Again these amendments would open the floodgates of litigation against public bodies, especially by the press who would claim public benefit for every request. Then the public body would likely have to absorb the entire cost of fulfilling these requests to avoid litigation.

MAC is currently opposed to these bills as written but is ready and willing to sit down with the bills’ sponsors and staff to work on the legislation to achieve clear, fair and reasonable changes to the act. 

For more information on this issue, contact Deena Bosworth at bosworth@micounties.org.

 

Opioid settlement rules gain swift action from legislative committees

A legislative package to manage the state’s $388 million portion of the national opioid settlement gained swift approval from committees in both chambers of the Legislature this week.

The House Judiciary Committee and Senate Health Policy Committee approved the bills that are designed to ensure Michigan receives the full $388 million over the 18-year settlement period, which begins in 2022.

House Bills 5968-69, by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Allegan), and Senate Bills 993, by Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb), and Senate Bill 994, by Sen. Mark Huizenga (R-Kent), create the Michigan Opioid Healing and Recovery Fund which ensure all money received under the national agreement is consistent with the settlement requirements. HB 5969 and SB 994 create the Opioid Advisory Commission in the Legislative Council, which recommends funding for initiatives that would support opioid prevention, treatments and services to the Legislature.

Whiteford stressed during her testimony how critical the bills are to prevent a repeat of what happened with the national tobacco settlement funds, which were diverted away to projects not related to anti-tobacco efforts.

HB 5970, by Rep. Christine Morse (D-Kalamazoo), and SB 995, by Sen. Betty Jean Alexander (D-Wayne), would bar local governments from future litigation related to the specific distributor and Janssen settlements. Under the settlement, a state must have a legislative prohibition against future litigating subdivisions (i.e., local governments) to receive the top incentive and the full amount of eligible funds.

MAC supports the bills based on our policy platforms, which call for state investment for treatment and services related to combatting the opioid epidemic and oppose a repeat of the spending outcome similar to that of the tobacco industry settlement.

The committees in both chambers passed the bills, on bipartisan votes, and the bills await action on the floor.

For more information on the national opioid settlement, visit https://nationalopioidsettlement.com/ or contact MAC’s Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

MDHHS opioid webinar on harm reduction set for next week

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), in partnership with the Michigan Municipal League (MML), the Michigan Township Association (MTA), The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office (AG) will be hosting a webinar series on the Distributor/Janssen Opioid Settlements. The next webinar will be held on Tuesday, April 19 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

State, county and local governments are slated to receive funds from the Distributor/Janssen Opioid Settlements in the coming months, and this webinar series will provide an opportunity for local elected officials, public health officials and other relevant parties to learn about best practices for spending these funds. This upcoming webinar will focus on opportunities to support harm reduction services.

There will be a Q&A period during the webinar, or participants may email questions directly to MDHHS-OpioidsTaskForce@michigan.gov, prior to April 19, 2022.

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcofuqhrzstH9EWwiYdZm2Zw0vOKo_C5x0E

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

 

MAC-backed road patrol funding bills clear House

The House passed a package of bills on Wednesday to improve Secondary Road Patrol (SRP) funding via the state liquor tax.

House Bill 5773, by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Genesee), HB 5732, by Tommy Brann (R-Kent), and HB 5772, by Rep. David Martin (R-Genesee), would require that $15 million annually from the 4 percent excise tax on liquor go to SRP. At present, the fund receives a $10 assessment from civil infractions, so funding is dependent on the number of written traffic citations. Under the bills, the assessment levied on those traffic citations would be reduced by $10 (from $40 to $30) to account for the portion of the assessment that would no longer be distributed to the Secondary Road Patrol and Training Fund.

MAC supports these bills as they would create a more stable funding stream for sheriffs to finance road patrols. The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association supports the package, as well, as do a number of individual county sheriffs.

The bills are now before the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland).

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Maintenance of effort measure gains House approval

The Michigan House this week approved a three-year extension to the county maintenance of effort (MOE) rate for county medical care facilities (MCFs), a key legislative priority for the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC).

House Bill 5875, by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Lenawee), provides an extension to the MOE freeze until 2025, or until the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) implements a new reimbursement model, whichever is sooner.

MDHHS has been studying and contemplating a new reimbursement model and policies for long-term care facilities. Should a new approach be implemented prior to Dec. 31, 2025, MCFs would transition to the new system under the bill.

Other organizations supporting the bill alongside MCMCFC include MAC, the Health Care Association of Michigan and Leading Age Michigan.

The bill now heads to the Senate Health Policy Committee chaired by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason).

For more information on this issue, contact Meghann Keit-Corrion at keit@micounties.org.

 

Podcast 83 discusses infrastructure, FOIA, courts and more

Returning from a month’s hiatus, MAC’s Podcast 83 team reconvened on Zoom Monday to discuss the next phase of legislative activity in Lansing.

Among issues discussed by Executive Director Stephan Currie and Deena Bosworth and Meghann Keit-Corrion of MAC’s government affairs team were the $4.7 billion infrastructure spending bill that’s heavy on water projects, troubling legislation to alter the Freedom of Information Act, the seemingly perennial battle over court funding and National County Government Month.

The team also took questions from members during the live session Monday afternoon.

Next Monday, Podcast 83 will broadcast a live session from MAC’s Lansing offices. The episode will begin at 4 p.m. and you can access it with this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82867692853.

Viewers will again be able to ask questions of the team.

If you can’t catch the episode live, a recording will be posted later next week to MAC’s YouTube channel.

And you always can find details about any Podcast 83 episode on the MAC website.

 

Staff picks

  • CoPro Web Ad 2018
  • Enbridge Banner Ad 2018
  • MMRMA Web Banner 2019
  • NACo Live Healthy Ad 960x200px
  • Nationwide Ad For Mac Site
  • 2022 AC Sponsors - Michigan above
  • 2022 AC Sponsors - Huron
  • 2022 AC Sponsors - all else